The Weekend Quiz – May 28-29, 2016 – answers and discussion

Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
Read the rest of this entry »

Spread the word ...
    Posted in Saturday quiz | 3 Comments

    The Weekend Quiz – May 28-29, 2016

    Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Spread the word ...
      Posted in Saturday quiz | 5 Comments

      Austerity is killing off the hopes of our youth

      Sometimes, it is almost as if I have to pinch myself to establish that what I am reading is not a dream. A few reports lately have had that effect, not the least being the latest IMF report – Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) for Greece, which is forecasting unemployment will remain above 10 per cent for several decades to come. The latest Eurostat data on gross labour flows also paints a dire picture for a nation that has been deliberately ruined by neo-liberal ideology. And, the latest Eurobarometer studying Europe’s youth in 2016 tells us clearly how the next generation of adults feel about all this – they feel marginalised from social and economic life. The Troika and its corporate pals are doing a great job killing off the prospects for Europe’s children and their grandchildren, and further on – their grandchildren’s children. People in a few hundred years will reflect back on this period of history as being a dark age where power hungry maniacs dominated the people before the latter revolted and mayhem ensued.
      Read the rest of this entry »

      Spread the word ...
        Posted in Eurozone, IMF | 15 Comments

        The US government view of the 1976 sterling crisis

        This blog continues the discussion of the British currency crisis in 1976. Today we discuss the way the US government was constructing the crisis. They had previously seen Europe in terms of military and political threats and had clearly developed a range of interventions in Europe (NATO, military bases etc) in response to their fear of Communism. But, it was clear that the US began to believe that the on-going financial turmoil that accompanied the OPEC oil shocks at a time when the world was trying to adjust to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system (and the Smithsonian agreement reprise), was undermining what they called their “assumptions of political stability” and increasing, in their paranoiac minds, the threat of the spread of communism. They considered that the IMF would have to be ‘steered’ to take a larger role in this period of turmoil to restore financial stability – a precondition for political stability (in their eyes). And if they couldn’t directly order the IMF to act in the perceived interests of the US government, then they would do it informally – through “‘conversations’ rather than meetings”. It is a very interesting period because the US clearly wanted to use the IMF to influence “the future shape of the political economy of Great Britain”. The ‘crisis’ was, in effect, manufactured to give those ambitions ‘ground cover’. At least, that is one plausible perspective of what happened in 1976.
        Read the rest of this entry »

        Spread the word ...
          Posted in Demise of the Left, IMF, UK Economy, US economy | 1 Comment

          Greek bailout money goes to banks and corporations – who would have thought?

          Earlier this week (May 23, 2016), the Greek public opinion polling agency – Public Issue – published its latest Political Barometer (No. 156) which reported on – Attitudes towards the European Union and the Euro. As at May 2015, the majority of Greeks polled did not believe that the EU has a future and a rising proportion now believe things would be better off in 1-2 years if Greece exited the euro and introduced its own currency (32 per cent as opposed to 18 per cent 6 months ago). Things are shifting. I also wonder what the next polls will say when the Greek people learn of the latest research that shows where all the Greek bailout money has gone? It is an appalling story really.

          Read the rest of this entry »

          Spread the word ...
            Posted in Eurozone | 13 Comments

            Australia is caught in a cyclical malaise – there is nothing ‘new normal’ about it

            There was another article in the financial media this weekend running the hypothesis that the stagnant economic conditions that Australia has found itself in is a “new normal”. This is now a repeating theme. I disagree with it. It ignores some basic realities and is ideologically loaded towards an austerity interpretation of the world. The article in the Fairfax press (May 21, 2016) – Low pay growth, price rises and the new normal – claims that the “central question in macro-economics today” is whether we are “waiting … for the economy to get back to normal, or has the economy shifted to a “new normal?”. I would pose the question differently. Waiting implies that we think it is just a matter of time before the ‘market’ does its work and restores normality. Moreover, Australia like most of the rest of the world remains locked in the aftermath of what we call a ‘balance sheet’ recession. As I explained to various audiences in Spain during my recent visit, this type of event is unusual (atypical or abnormal) and requires a quite different policy response to a normal V-shaped recession where private investment spending falls, governments stimulate, confidence returns and growth gets back fairly quickly on its trend path. The losses might be large but the recession and aftermath are short. A balance sheet recession requires elevated levels of fiscal deficits being maintained for many years to support growth as non-government sector spending remains below the norm while it reduces its debt levels (via increased saving). The problem in Australia, like elsewhere, is that governments have been hectored by neo-liberal ideologues to prematurely withdraw or reduce the fiscal support and growth has stalled. A range of problems then follow.
            Read the rest of this entry »

            Spread the word ...
              Posted in Economics, Fiscal Statements, IMF, Inflation, Labour costs | 8 Comments

              The Weekend Quiz – May 21-22, 2016 – answers and discussion

              Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
              Read the rest of this entry »

              Spread the word ...
                Posted in Saturday quiz | Leave a comment

                The Weekend Quiz – May 21-22, 2016

                Welcome to The Weekend Quiz, which used to be known as the Saturday Quiz! The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
                Read the rest of this entry »

                Spread the word ...
                  Posted in Saturday quiz | 3 Comments

                  Australian labour market – continues to languish

                  The latest labour force data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – Labour Force data – for April 2016 show that those ominous signs that have been apparent for most of this year are still hovering above the labour market. Total employment growth was virtually non-existent with only 10,800 (net) jobs created. Full-time employment decreased 9,300, while part-time employment increased by 20,200. It is the second consecutive month of negative full-time employment growth, which highlights the deteriorating labour market situation in Australia. There was also a decline in hours worked which is now trending downwards. Over the last six months, around 87 per cent of the net jobs created have been part-time. The growth in part-time work suggests that overall the quality of work in Australia again deteriorated. So overall a poor outcome. Unemployment rose marginally this month but this is largely because the weak employment growth is interacting with even weaker labour force growth. The participation rate fell again. The teenage labour market remains in a poor state and requires urgent policy intervention. Overall, with weak private investment now on-going, the Australian labour market is looking very weak and the Federal government should have introduced a rather sizeable fiscal stimulus in its recent fiscal statement. This should have included a large-scale public sector job creation program which would ensure teenagers regained the jobs that have been lost due to the fiscal drag over the last several years. However, the Federal government appears incapable of addressing this dire issue. It is embroiled in mythical discussions about running out of money and not being able to defend the economy if there is another crisis. All make believe, while the real world does head towards another major rift. It is up to the Opposition to shift the political agenda (in the current election campaign). But, they are missing in action on these important issues.
                  Read the rest of this entry »

                  Spread the word ...
                    Posted in Labour Force | 3 Comments

                    British Left reject fiscal strategy – speculation mounts, March 1976

                    This blog continues the discussion of the British currency crisis in 1976. Today we discuss the rejection of the 1976 Public Expenditure White Paper by the British Parliamentary Left who wanted an expansion of the fiscal deficit given that unemployment was well in excess of 1 million people in early 1976. Soon after Harold Wilson resigned as Prime Minister and James Callaghan, took over. He was by then ‘anti-union’ and was, increasingly, making statements about trade union power that played into the hands of the conservative push for an increased share of national income. After the rejection of the fiscal strategy, the sterling sell-off intensified. It was no coincidence.
                    Read the rest of this entry »

                    Spread the word ...
                      Posted in Economics | 4 Comments